• England National Teams

England hit five past Wales to maintain unbeaten run in Birmingham

England 5 

Grace Balsdon (18 PS, 34 PC, 58 PC); Hannah Martin (28 FG); Giselle Ansley (54 PC)

Wales 0

Five-star England eased past Wales to ensure they topped Pool A with maximum points and set-up a Commonwealth Games semi-final with New Zealand.

In an entertaining battle between the two home nations a hat-trick from Grace Balsdon did the damage, with further goals from Hannah Martin and Giselle Ansley sealing a 5-0 win.

It means England qualify for the final four with a 100% winning record for the first time at a Commonwealth Games, conceding only one goal along the way.

Wales had started well and managed to hold the host nation for the first quarter, but once Balsdon broke the deadlock with a penalty stroke England never looked like slipping up.

It completes an impressive pool stage for the women’s side, with attentions now turning towards tomorrow’s semi-final with the Black Sticks.

England: Hinch, Unsworth, Toman, Martin, Rayer, Petter, Ansley, Pearne-Webb, Crackles, Owsley,

Peel.

Subs: Hunt, Walker, Howard, Hamilton, McCallin, Heesh, Balsdon.

Hannah Martin after scoring England's second in the win over Wales

Match Report

In front of a noisy morning crowd at the University of Birmingham Hockey Centre, it was Wales who started brightly.

Eloise Laity forced a good save from Maddie Hinch, while England were put under pressure when Laura Unsworth picked up an early green card.

Wales should have taken the lead in the eighth minute, but a diving Amy Burton could only fire over from close range.

England improved in the second quarter with Martin once again looking lively with some positive attacking runs putting Wales’ defence on the back foot.

But the crucial opener came from a different source. Ellie Rayer rounded Rose Thomas and flicked towards the open goal, only for Beth Bingham’s face to intervene.

While Bingham was able to carry on, Balsdon made no mistake with the resulting penalty stroke, pushing the ball low to left just inside the post.

Lily Owsley went close to doubling the lead when her undercut strike ricocheted off Thomas’s stick, onto the cross bar and then wide.

But England didn’t have to wait long to find some breathing space.

Martin got in on the act with a wonderful run and finish, her near-post effort having too much power for Thomas to keep out, the move set-up by a wonderful pass from Holly Hunt.

England were firmly in control and made it three only a couple of minutes into the second half. From their fifth penalty corner of the match, Balsdon’s drag flick did the damage to give her side breathing space.

Although Wales kept fighting, they weren’t able to threaten Hinch’s goal in the final 15 and it was left to England to complete scoring from two more penalty corners.

First, Ansley got her third goal of the Pool stage when her effort beat Ella Jackson in the middle of the goal.

Then in the dying minutes of the contest, Balsdon got her hat-trick when her low drag found the corner of the net to complete the scoring and cap a fine morning’s work for England.

The defender now joins South Africa’s Jean-Leigh du Toit at the top of the goalscorer charts for the 2022 Games, with six from four matches.

England will now regroup before their crunch match with New Zealand, where a win will guarantee a medal in Birmingham.

That one will take place at 6pm on Friday night.

Feeling inspired to pick up a stick? Follow this link to find out what's happening near you: www.englandhockey.co.uk/play/pickupastick 

Looking to watch some more international action after the Commonwealth Games? Tickets for England women’s Euro qualifiers at Durham 25-28 August are on sale now at https://www.englandhockey.co.uk/international/euro-qualifiers-durham-2022/womens-eurohockey-qualifiers-tickets